Math Fest: Games and Classic Books

Math can be fun. No seriously, give me a chance to prove it. I don’t claim to make you love calculus (bleh, I can’t even wrap my head around that), but I think I can surprise you. . .


Here’s a funny little trivia thing to make you scratch your head. When I look at my blog stats, one of my ten most popular posts is: Math Classics. I looked at that post (from 5 years ago) to tell you my favorites, you know the ones that have lasted “the test of time” and all that…but I still love them all. So check it out!

In that old post, I mentioned my idea for a Math Fest. Why not? Spellling Bee’s are pretty popular, and spelling is boring. Ok, important, but for me, boring. Math is cool.

What is a Math Fest? Well, since I made it up, it can be whatever we decide it is. I have some ideas to get us started. My dream of Math Fest is basically a math carnival. I’m losing you aren’t I? Come back! This is not the math your teachers tortured you with in school.

We could begin with Math Games and Activities from Around the World by Claudia Zaslavsky. You can make the games she talks describes with cardstock and some of those decorative marbles (not round marbles, but the ones with one side that is flat that people put in plants and fishtanks…all the box stores have them). Or your kids would love it if you use M&Ms, but you might have to keep replacing the pieces. Seriously, check out this book, even if you don’t have children. It’s that fun.

Chess. No Math Fest would be complete without chess! “But chess doesn’t have numbers,” you say. That’s right. Neither do the games in Ms. Zaslavsky’s book, that’s because math is more than numbers. Math is logic, and math is fun. Don’t just limit yourself to traditional chess though, after all this is a math carnival. How about some Chess 4? After wanting this game for a LONG time, I finally bought it, and I’m so glad. The kids and I had a blast with it last weekend. All the same rules apply, but now you have 3 opponents instead of 1. It is mind-boggling, yes! And if you are feeling really daring, how about Strato Chess. THAT is going on my Christmas Wish List, you know, just in case you were wondering.

I suppose we can have some “numbers” at our Math Fest, but only if it’s fun! All right?


So for those of you that want numbers, don’t miss Muggins/Knock Out. My 6 yr old just learned to play Knock Out this summer and he is thrilled. He thinks we’re just having fun (shhh! don’t tell him he’s learning his math facts!)

And our Math Fest will not be complete without Mancala. Some historians believe that Mancala is the world’s oldest game. You can buy a game, you could make one with an empty egg carton and M&Ms, or you can even get a Mancala App. (Yep, I have mine!)

Now that you are checking your calendar and pondering locations for your Math Fest, here’s a list from a helpful mom at amazon, with more math games. Thanks JoAnn! 

Oh, and don’t forget to have some of those Math Classics lying around at your Math Fest, and in your home.

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